Well, here we are at that time of the year once again, When minds go to thoughts of pumpkin pie and turkey and dressing and purloin pie…where, right around the corner, we’ll be breaking out the decorations and singing carols and wrapping gifts and spending time with our loved ones. With the onset of the holiday season, it goes without saying that thoughts often turn sentimental and we long for the nostalgia of the good old days. We tend to be drawn toward the very attitude for which the coming holiday is named. Thankfulness. Gratitude.
Since we, as followers of Christ, endeavor to operate and live our lives according to His economy - His way of doing things - thankfulness - gratitude - should be one of the underlying foundational attitudes that we walk in…always…regardless of our circumstances.

[1Th 5:16-18 NASB] says 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The opposite of gratitude is is ingratitude. A heart that has an ungrateful attitude tends to be a self-focused heart. Have you ever spent any time in conversation with someone who has a whiny, ungrateful attitude? Nothing is ever good enough for them, or everyone seems to be against them, or they talk about having to do everything themselves, or there’s a constant drawing of the conversation back to all things ‘me, me, me’? Do you enjoy being with such a person? I don’t!

A grateful heart is a heart that realizes the investments others have made in their lives; a heart that acknowledges it did not achieve success solely in its own strength; a heart that gives credit where credit is due; a grateful heart is the heart that deflects praise from themselves and points to God as the ultimate reason for their success…the ultimate bestower of any blessings they have received.

Expressing gratitude and appreciation to others for the ways they have blessed our lives is one of the quickest ways to overcome the liar and his subtle lies that try to get us self-focused. In fact, when I am feeling unappreciated, you know what I do? This is the truth…I ask the Lord to show me people who are feeling unappreciated…and I write them a short note expressing my gratitude for their place in my life. Before I am even through putting pen to paper, my feeling of being unappreciated is gone! Why? Because I took my eyes off of ME!

In my own life, I had to take this to the lowest common denominator in a sense. I reasoned that if God’s Word tells me I am to give thanks in everything, that means everything. This was difficult for me at first simply because I had gone through so many battles for my mind and identity through the years…through circumstances where I could not find anything to be thankful for…

Like the time when I was 5 years old and that man exposed himself to me and tried to coerce me to sexual things. How could I give thanks in that?

I give thanks that God to me through that and has brought healing to my mind since that time. He was there, going through every ordeal with me.

Like the time my grandmother - a source of deep encouragement and refuge - suddenly died. How could I express gratitude in that loss?

I give thanks that I have many precious memories in the bank of my mind to draw on reminding me of the encouragement she gave me. And I give thanks because I will see her again.

A mentor in college - someone I believe was sent of God - made a sexual advance on me when I went to him for help. How could thankfulness emanate from such an episode?

I give thanks to Father God for going through that very damaging time in my life with me and for using even what the enemy meant for evil for my own good and for His glory.

Through the years, I have received pressure to stop telling my story from well-meaning believers…even some telling me my music would sell better if I lost the story. And then on the other hand, through the years I have had those in the world tell me I fabricated the story to sell music. Where does a grateful heart find its way through sic a dilemma?

I give thanks based on [Psa 107:1-2 NASB] which says 1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. 2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary

In other words, if we who have been redeemed do not express what we have been redeemed from, how in the world are those trapped in the same bondage ever going to know there is hope? In this sense, gratitude - giving thanks - is like a sword against the lies of the enemy. As I express gratitude to God for redeeming me from even moments when I was a victim, I go from being a victim to being a victor OVER those circumstances, regardless of how harsh they may have been.

I give thanks that the Lord has seen fit to get my music and message of hope out to the world in spite of the detractors and naysayers.

As a dad, when one of my children expresses gratitude to me, I tend to lean in to that child, feeling drawn to a deeper intimacy. It can be as simple as a glance across the table after passing the salt. It can be as simple as a hug after a kind word I’ve said. It can be as simple as a short note of thanks for a gift. I am a sucker for a grateful heart…and I am an earthly father…so how much more does our heavenly Father lean in toward us whenever we express thanks to Him? Something to think about.

One more picture of a thankful heart I want to share with you. From my point of view, I think the quickest way to a deep awareness of God’s presence is to express thanks to Him. I see God’s presence like a massively deep refreshing pool of water. Since I do not want to walk in a shallow relationship with Him and since the deeper places are out in the center of Who He is, I see gratitude as a diving board that can launch me out into the deeper places of Who He is…so I take a great big jump on the end of that board by expressing gratitude to God and the next thing I know, I am plunged into a deep awareness of His presence with and in me.

Do you want to walk in an attitude of gratitude? Do you want to experience the presence of God like never before? Do you want to take your eyes off of yourself? Are you tired of being a victim? Would you like to walk with a victorious attitude? Then begin by expressing gratitude to God for all He has done…and while you’re at it, thank someone today for their place in your life. Life is too short to allow ingratitude to rule the way we think. The attitude of gratitude is one of the most revolutionary things God has done for me…and I thank Him for it!
Dennis Jernigan

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